Indie Bookstore Tour: Little Shop of Stories

One this stop of our Independent Bookstore Tour, Bonnie and I found ourselves in Decatur Georgia. Home of the annual AJC Decatur Book Festival, which has become the largest Independent book festival in the country! So, this amazing and vibrant city square was the perfect location for our next visit.

In order to set the stage properly for this particular visit, I must tell you . . . it was freaking freezing. Just to prove it, within 48 hours of our visit, all of metro Atlanta was covered in snow. So, I’m not exaggerating.

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As Bonnie and I walked, briskly, through Decatur Square, we marveled at all of the restaurants and shops. All of them looking incredibly inviting as the sleet bounced off our faces. But we were on a mission, and when we finally arrived at Little Shop of Stories and I peeked inside, the deep chill melted from my bones.

Sunny bright yellow walls surrounded me, every square foot covered in autographed illustrations from authors and illustrators. This store was not only the largest we’d visited so far, but the most colorful and brightly lit. Almost as though the store was sparkling against a grey winter backdrop. Like a shiny new penny. (Seriously, part of the floor is gorgeous mosaic pennies.)

For those of you who know me, I love two things: color and themes. So Little Shop of Stories checked many of my boxes. Especially considering everywhere I turned was another corner of the store dedicated/curated from a different children’s book. Including everything from murals, to furniture, to complete rooms! My favorite? Why, Platform 9 3/4 of course!

On par for our tour, we met the super helpful Justin, store manager. He walked us around, showing us the different sections, the loft area for parties and book clubs, answered our questions and gave us some history behind some of his favorite books at the moment.

A fantastic characteristic I noticed about the store, and Decatur in general, was the support for other local businesses. Justin was quick to tell us other indie bookstores in the neighborhood we should put on our tour. Even signage around the store encouraged customers to buy and read local. Supporting community authors, artists, and businesses is very important to me . . . especially as a local author. πŸ™‚

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One of my most favorite features of this particular bookstore was the little handwritten notes I found scattered everywhere. The owners encourage staff to write reviews of books they read and display them on the shelves with the books. How amazing is that?

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While this is absolutely a children’s bookstore, but I highly recommend you visit if you enjoy whimsical enviroments or want to revive your childlike joy and enthusiasm for reading. This bookstore is everything you want from a local, indie business – it’s unique, has a helpful and knowledgeable staff, and the overall feel of the place is incredibly personal. And if you have kids, wether they like to read or not, you need to bring them just so they can get lost in their imagination. I can’t wait to visit again next August when I attend the Indie Book Festival.

If you want to learn more about different events and author readings Little Shop of Stories host, make sure you click here. My tour buddy, Bonnie Clark, is a children’s author herself, so if you want to read her take on our visit, click here! Thanks again to Justin and Little Shop of Stories for being such a warm host on such a frigid winter day.

 

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On a scale of 1 to Serenbe: Hills & Hamlets Bookshop

Many years ago, I visited a little community called Serenbe, immediately becoming obsessed. It’s like a small village that values health, the environment, the arts, and sustainable living. Amazing farm to table food, no pesticides, beautiful landscapes, thoughtfully designed houses, random famous people, and all things organic. I talked about it with whoever would listen and dreamed about going back. I even named one of my fictional flowers after it in The Door Keeper. But life gets busy and it’s been years since I’ve visited again, sadly.

Until that is, I found out there was a new adorable bookshop that had open up last year called Hills & Hamlets. Thankfully, my friend Bonnie was just as excited as I was to check it out, so we put it on our Indie Bookstore Tour.

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Our introduction to Serenbe was just as beautiful as I remembered. Everything is thoughtfully designed, from street signs to trash cans. It’s as though the people here find ways to insert passion and art into even the most mundane of objects. After a quick stop into the General Store, (all organic, local, handcrafted), Bonnie and I headed over to Hills & Hamlets.

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The bookstore is unbelievably quaint and completely perfect for this community. Even though it was small, it maximized shelf space in creative ways. We quickly met the friendly and helpful owner, Josh Niesse. He and his wife own another bookstore in Carrollton, Ga and decided to open Hills & Hamlets after falling in love with Serenbe. (Common theme I’m seeing among all who visit.)

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Josh was just what you hope a bookshop owner is: passionate about books all bookish things. He showed us the different sections, including his favorite, the Rare Antiquarian wall. Y’all, this wall is gorgeous and every book lovers dream.

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Not only does H & H sell modern books, antique books by the foot, and beautiful book sets, but they sell some adorable and fun bookish things. Including artwork from book passages, awesome candles called Secular Saints, and handmade journals made from vintage books!

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After spending some quality time in the bookstore, Josh recommended a quick stroll to the walking bridge . . . that apparently leads to magical journey “across the pond.” One of the new developments in Serenbe called Swann Ridge, contains houses and architecture with an European old-world flare.

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I’m not even going to attempt to pretend that Bonnie and I weren’t completely giddy with excitement. We also may or may not have spoken in British accents as we moseyed along the cobblestone streets.

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Already sold and completely in love with Serenbe, we took a moment to find our inner child, jumping on one of the many trampolines spread throughout the community. Just one more way this place encourages residents and visitors to find the fun and joy in life.

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Hungry and spent from our visit, we made our way to the Blue Eyed Daisy. One of my best memories from my visit before. The first of now several restaurants built in Serenbe, The Blue Eyed Daisy is sustained from the 25 acre organic farm located on the property. Seriously farm fresh. Bonnie and I both decided on the Blue Eyed Burger, a local favorite with pimento cheese. That burger sealed the deal, 10 was no longer my judge for perfection, it had become Serenbe. On a scale of 1 to Serenbe, this food, this place, was so Serenbe.

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I can’t wait to go back, please check out the links I included above to learn more about Hills & Hamlets Bookshop and Serenbe. Or you should just go visit and fall in love yourself! If you’d like to read Bonnie’s account of our amazing day there, click here.

Thanks for joining and I look forward to sharing stop number 3 next!

How far we’ve come!

Hello friends, this past week has been one of the most fun weeks of my life!

I wanted to just take a moment and reflect on just how far this story has come. The morning The Door Keeper released, my sister sent me this photo.

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This was a copy of the first draft of The Door Keeper I gave to my Dad for his birthday. (I’m seriously glad I didn’t attempt to create the actual cover…) Lol

And here I am, now receiving pictures and texts from friends reading the book they bought on Amazon.!

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I just wanted to take a moment with all of you and appreciate how far we’ve come. I hope that you all know that I realize this story is as much yours as it is mine.

I’ve heard many authors compare their books to their babies. It’s true in a sense. In a moment of inspiration, or creativity…something is conceived. (Insert middle school giggle here.) Then for months and months, it grows and develops into something more, something that can breath and move on it’s own accord. Then one day, before you are both truly ready, you have to shove it out into the world and are forced to let it go.

It’s also true that it takes a village to raise a baby, or in this case a book.

I want you all to know that you are my village. You are all my tribe. I credit you all for helping me mature this little thing, growing it up, and helping me release it into the great unknown. πŸ™‚

Thank you for growing The Door Keeper with me. Any success of it, is success that you should and hopefully will, share with me.